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Diet, Exercise, and Good Sleep Are Keys to Brain Health


Sleep continues to wind its way into “three-legged” stool arguments when pondering the foundations of true health. Researchers are finding that diet, exercise, and sleep are all keys to lowering the risk of developing cognitive decline later in life.


Wise food choices and lots of exercise are a good base, along with learning new material and keeping socially connected—but another key element of brain health is good sleep.


We may take sleep for granted, but research suggests this is not a passive process, a board-certified neurologist who practices at Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco. There is a growing consensus that sleep is linked to learning, memory, nerve cell remodeling and repair. Evidence also suggests lack of sleep can contribute to mood and immune disorders, as well as to a decline in overall health.


According to Madison, some studies suggest that factual memories are consolidated in slow and REM sleep, based on changes at the molecular and cellular level within our brains as nerve extensions are branched, modified and reinforced. “These delicate processes can be disturbed by chemical changes in the body related to stress, pain, hormones, medications and aging, to name a few,” she writes. With aging, there is evidence that many people develop sleep disorders and experience sleep fragmentation, with slow wave and REM sleep broken up by shallower cycles.


Source: Dr. Catherine A. Madison in


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ADLs for Elderly Decline with Poor Sleep


It may not be a “co-morbidity,” but difficulty with an activity of daily living (ADL) constitutes a decline in the quality of life for elderly people. According to the article “Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Functional Decline in Older Women“, older women with sleep disordered breathing were found to be at greater risk of decline in the ability to perform daily activities, such as grocery shopping and meal preparation.


The findings come courtesy of a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California, San Francisco. The study was published in the online edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


The study found that women with an AHI on the moderate to severe side, with 15 or more breathing disruptions per hour of sleep, had a 2.2 times greater odds of decline in daily activity functions during the evaluation period, which averaged five years between baseline evaluation and follow-up.


“Because sleep-disordered breathing can be treated effectively, it is possible that treatment could help prevent decline in important areas of functioning that allow older adults to remain independent,” says Adam Spira, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the study’s lead author in the online MedicalXPress. “As is often the case, more research is needed to investigate this possibility.”


“The researchers say they believe it is the low blood-oxygen levels caused by sleep-disordered breathing that cause the trouble with daily tasks, and not sleep fragmentation, which is also increased by sleep-disordered breathing,” says Medicalxpress. “The authors note that women who reported no difficulties with daily activities during their baseline evaluation, but a moderate-to-high AHI, had a somewhat higher risk of reporting deterioration in daily- activity function in the follow-up evaluation. No links between sleep-disordered breathing severity and decline in mobility were observed.”


Click Here for Abstract

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The Most “Under-Appreciated” Health Problem in America? Sleep


Heavyweight media outlets The Huffington Post and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) have been pumping out strong statements in recent weeks, and it backs up what sleep publications have been trumpeting for years: sleep matters to health. A recent Huff Post article quotes celebrity physician Mehmet Oz, MD, MBA, saying that sleep is nothing less than the “single most under-appreciated health problem in America.”


The article even poses the provocative question—What’s more important? An hour at the gym or an extra hour of sleep? Dr. Mehmet Oz, starring in the new series “Surgeon Oz” on OWN, says there is a definitive answer. “I feel pretty passionately about this,” he says. “If you have the choice between an extra hour of sleep or an extra hour of working out, you sleep.”


Although exercise has enormous value, says Oz in the #OWNSHOW video, he points out that “people who don’t sleep, gain weight. People who don’t sleep have immune problems and a whole slew of other problems. Why deal with that?”


The sleep hygiene advice is well known by members of the sleep industry, but Oz’s reach to consumer audiences is vast, particularly with the new backing by Oprah Winfrey. As far as how many hours of sleep are needed each night, Dr. Oz says in the Huff Post that it’s cut and dry. “95 percent of people need somewhere between 7 and 8 hours,” he says. “On average, women need 7 to 7.5 hours, while men – who are needier, need 7.5 to 8.”



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Analysis: A Bad Night’s Sleep Helps…Nothing

Sleep 3rd Pillar1 Analysis: A Bad Night’s Sleep Helps...Nothing

With celebrity physician Dr. Oz recently proclaiming that poor sleep is the “single most under-appreciated health problem in America,” the business and clinical practice of sleep medicine seems poised to explode. Sleep awareness has arrived like the Beatles in 1960’s America, or Taylor Swift on the red carpet at the VMAs.


Like so many “overnight” successes, awareness has actually built gradually, with study results published week after week in relatively obscure journals. The message comes in different forms, but it all comes down to an inescapable conclusion: chronically bad sleep goes way beyond daytime sleepiness, affecting virtually every aspect of health.


Does bad/shortened sleep help anything? It might help procrastinating college kids make tight deadlines, or propel high-tech start-up mavens to stunning IPOs, but for the vast majority of people, the answer is poor sleep has zero benefits. And over the long haul, poor sleep (ravaged by sleep apnea) can lead to a long list of co-morbidities. These real health problems can take years off of the average human’s life expectancy.


It sounds melodramatic, but it’s the truth. Major consumer magazines, Oprah Winfrey, and the New York Times are firmly on the sleep bandwagon, and they are not jumping off. For sleep centers, CPAP providers, and sleep physicians, it all adds up to opportunity.


Fortunately, this opportunity (and its inevitable financial rewards) is nourished by helping patients. There is no snake oil element to satisfying the demand for sleep apnea relief—through CPAP, oral appliances, and surgical alternatives. Far from being threatened by diverse treatments, ethical providers know that free-flowing referral streams, based on patient need, will help all concerned.


Long-time sleep clinicians are no doubt reading all the hype with an “I told you so” grin, and these grizzled veterans are well positioned to take advantage of increased awareness. If they continue to put patient needs first, the new age of sleep could have considerable legs.


Source: Sleep Diagnosis and Therapy Journal


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Night Owl Nonsense? New Study Suggests Four Sleep Types


As reported in, scientists in Russia are proposing that there are actually four chronotypes beyond the late (owls) and early (larks) risers. Instead, there are people who feel energetic in both the mornings and evenings, as well as people who feel lethargic all day.


In a study detailed in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, biologist Arcady Putilov, and his colleagues at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, asked 130 people to stay awake for 24 hours. The subjects filled out questionnaires about how awake they felt, their sleep patterns, and how well they had functioned during the previous week.


“The results showed that among them were 29 larks, who showed higher energy levels at 9 a.m. than at 9 p.m., and 44 owls, for whom the opposite was true,” writes Olga Khazan for The Atlantic. “The owls also went to bed about two hours later, on average, than the larks. But the rest of the group fell into neither of these patterns.”


As BPS Research Digest puts it: There was a “high energetic” group of 25 people who reported feeling relatively sprightly in both the morning and evening; and a “lethargic” group of 32 others, who described feeling relatively dozy in both the morning and evening.


The next big question is, writes Khazan with tongue firmly in cheek: “What bird names to assign these two new groups. Lazy Bird and hummingbird? The albatross and the peregrine falcon?”


Source: The Atlantic

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Building Better Athletes With More Sleep


Those rigid curfews enforced by sports coaches for decades may indeed have scientific backing. In an article entitled “Building Better Athletes with More Sleep,” The Atlantic takes the national obsession with athletic performance and applies it to sports.


“For us humans, sleep is completely crucial to proper functioning,” writes Mark McCluskey. “As we’ve all experienced, we’re simply not as adept at anything in our lives if we don’t sleep well. Without proper sleep, whether it’s a short-term or long-term deficit, there are substantial effects on mood, mental and cognitive skills, and motor abilities. When it comes to recovery from hard physical efforts, there’s simply no better treatment than sleep, and a lot of it.”


Most research on the effects of sleep on athletes has studied sleep deprivation, and McCluskey confirms that those effects are quite strong. “Just like the rest of us, athletes see a drop in their performance across all sorts of measurements if they are kept awake for the entire night, or even just interrupted in their sleep,” he writes. “But instead of focusing on the effects of a lack of sleep, it’s more interesting to explore additional sleep as an advantage. If an athlete gets more sleep than his or her competitors, will that lead to an edge? That’s just the question that Stanford researcher Cheri D. Mah set out to answer.”

The answer, found Mah, is that a bit more sleep could dramatically enhance performance.


Source: The Atlantic


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AAA Drowsy Driving Numbers Signal Large Problem


The AAA Foundation for Public Safety’s long-awaited report on the effects of drowsy driving concluded that as much as 21% of crashes (from 2009-2013) in which a person was killed, likely involved a drowsy driver.


“If these proportions are applied to all reported crashes nationwide, results suggest that an average of 328,000 crashes annually, including 109,000 crashes that result in injuries and 6,400 fatal crashes, involve a drowsy driver,” wrote AAA analysts in a report released this week.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 1.4% of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States, 2.2% of those that resulted in injuries, and 2.5% of all fatal crashes in years 2005-2009, involved a drowsy driver, and those crashes resulted in a total of 5,021 deaths over those years.


“However, the official government statistics are widely regarded as a substantial underestimates of the true magnitude of the problem,” writes AAA. “This study estimates that as many as 6% of all crashes in which a passenger vehicle is towed from the scene, 7% of crashes that result in any injuries, 13% of crashes that result in sever injuries requiring hospitalization, and 21% of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver.”


Full report:

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Losing Sleep in Distant Lands

Travelers know jet lag all too well, but soldiers losing sleep in distant lands represents a different challenge altogether. How bad is it for members of the military? As reported in the San Antonio Express News, a new medical study determined that the Army had the highest rate of chronic insomnia among the armed services over a long decade of war.


The study showed a sharp increase among men and women as the U.S. fought in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2013 and found those veterans were more likely to have high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

“Insomnia is a common complaint in active-duty service members,” the authors of the study wrote in a report issued by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. “Of those returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, 41 percent reported problems sleeping.”


According to reporter Sig Christenson, the problem is well known among troops who’ve served in the war zone since 9/11. But the study found chronic insomnia, diagnosed when symptoms occur at least three times a week for three months or more, rose sharply from 2004 through 2012.


“Researchers pored over more than a decade’s worth of medical data to reach their findings, published late last week in the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report,” writes Christenson. “Both men and women slept poorly in many cases. The Army—which bore the heaviest burden of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, sending soldiers to the war zone on multiple occasions—had the highest rate of chronic insomnia.”


Source: San Antonio News

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Fitness Band Boom Increasingly Targeting Sleep


Another new fitness band has hit the market, and this one explicitly hypes its ability to provide feedback about sleep patterns. The technology wrap-up featuring the Jawbone Up3 states “Jawbone has a new wristband that uses a relatively unusual technique to provide feedback about sleep patterns”. “The Up3 measures the wearer’s heart rate via metal-covered sensors that protrude from its underside to press against the skin. This contrasts with the approach of rivals that combine infrared and visible-light LEDs with photosensors, which are more battery-intensive.”


Also dubbed “smart watches,” these wrist bands have long tracked blood pressure and heart rate, and now the Up3 follows this trend using a technique called bioimpedance to track its owner’s pulse. “This involves passing an imperceptible electrical current through the body to measure its resistance to the effect,” writes Kelion. “The process is already used by several specialist medical devices to measure heart rate, body fat, fluid levels and other body composition readings, and has featured in a few consumer devices such as Fitbit’s Aria weight scales.”


Jawbone is reportedly pioneering its use in a mass-market wristband following the firm’s takeover of Bodymedia, a Pennsylvania-based company that had been carrying out research into the technology.

“Because bioimpedance requires significantly less power compared to optical sensors for the same level of accuracy, we can deliver a smaller form factor and longer battery life,” said Jawbone of the innovation.


According to recent story on BBC News, the Up3 will take heart rate readings when the owner wakes up to track changes

Initially, the sensors will be able to accurately measure the Up3 owner’s heart rate only while they are resting and just after they wake up, “but the company intends to extend their use with a software update to other times of the day.”


Soure: BBC

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A ‘touch-me-not’ sensor for improving sleep and fatigue


Imagine a device that measures your sleeping patterns. Imagine it sending the information gathered to the cloud for sleep and fatigue analysis. And imagine it giving you advice on certain actions (like exercise or diet) you can take to improve your fatigue.


Could this be an effective replacement to the wearable sensors in the market today?


Nintendo’s QOL Sensor, being made in collaboration with ResMed, is designed to sit on the user’s bedside. Using a non-contact radio frequency sensor it measures body movements, breathing and heartbeat without physically touching the user’s body. User feedback will be developed with inputs from renowned fatigue scientists Dr Yasuyoshi Watanabe, Dr Hirohiko Kuratsune and Dr Seiki Tajima.


Unveiled during Nintendo’s latest financial results briefing, Nintendo’s President Satoru Iwata detailed the five ‘non’ sensing elements” of this new QOL platform.

According to Iwata, this device is non-wearable, non- contact, non-operating, non-waiting and has no installation efforts. And rather than deploy the standard communication with a game system QOL will involve numerous platforms, as well as the QOL sensor and the QOL cloud servers it sends information to. Game systems and smartphones will also communicate with the cloud servers to retrieve information and feedback.


The magic of touching one’s quality of life without an uncomfortable physical contact, would you say?




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